Explains what bipolar disorder is, as well as different diagnoses and treatments. Offers information on how you can support someone with bipolar and tips for self-management.
What types of bipolar disorder are there?
Bipolar disorder is often broken down into types and subtypes.
Not all medical professionals agree on how to classify or diagnose bipolar disorder. More research in this area is needed.
You may get a diagnosis of cyclothymia if:
- You've experienced both hypomanic and depressive mood episodes over the course of two years or more.
- Your symptoms aren't severe enough to meet the diagnostic criteria of bipolar 1 or bipolar 2.
Cyclothymia can sometimes develop into bipolar 1 or bipolar 2.
Cyclothymia can be a difficult diagnosis to receive. You may feel as though someone is saying your symptoms are 'not serious enough', but this isn't the case. Cyclothymia can seriously impact your life. And mental health is a spectrum that covers lots of different experiences.
I have cyclothymia. It can make you feel more like it must be all in your head as the symptoms are often not as extreme as bipolar.
This might mean:
- You experience episodes of mania or hypomania, followed by episodes of depression.
- You feel stable for a few weeks between episodes. For example, you may cycle between manic episodes and stable periods.
- You experience episodes that last months, weeks or days.
If you have bipolar disorder, you may experience rapid cycling at certain times in your life and not others.
Currently, rapid cycling is not officially considered a separate type of bipolar disorder. More research is needed about rapid cycling and how best to treat it.
For more information on rapid cycling, see the Bipolar UK website.
You may be told that you have bipolar 1 or 2 'with mixed features' if you experience mixed episodes. This is when you experience depression and mania or hypomania at the same time, or very quickly after each other.
This is sometimes called mixed bipolar state or mixed affective bipolar.
You may be told that you have bipolar 1 or 2 'with seasonal pattern'. This means that the time of year or seasons regularly affect your mood episodes.
This information was published in February 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
References and bibliography available on request.
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